Crossroads

ilaria / Flickr -- CC

Italian food. Those two words may bring up images of a pasta dish with red sauce, or perhaps a thick square of lasagna. Throw in a glass of wine, and you're set for a cold winter night.

Some local chefs are also putting a creative spin on the cuisine. From old-school favorites to some new takes, our food critics on KCUR’s Central Standard searched out the best Italian food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Joy / Flickr -- CC

It’s a great time of year for pie.

Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with a traditional pumpkin pie, or warding off the chill with a hearty chicken pot pie, it’s amazing what can go under, over or between flaky, golden crusts.

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Aaron Leimkuehler

Restaurants come and go. On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have kept up with the latest goings-on in our local dining scene from over the past several months.

Todd Rosenberg

After a five-year fundraising campaign, the Kansas City Symphony announced Wednesday that it had accomplished its goal of raising $55 million for its endowment fund, which will now total more than $100 million.

In a news release, the Symphony reported that 1,000 donors had pledged gifts ranging from $10 to $10 million over the five-year period.

Rob Bertholf / Flickr -- CC

It's one of the best times of the year to be outside. It's officially fall on the calendar, and after a hot September, it has finally cooled down.

In that spirit, KCUR’s Food Critics searched out the best outdoor dining spots on Friday's Central Standard. From a see-and-be-seen sidewalk café to something that's more secluded and romantic, they found a plethora of spots in and around KC to enjoy the outdoors with food and drink in hand.

Here are their recommendations:

Cameron Wiley

Painter Melissa McCracken says ugly music does exist, but nothing that looks so bad she has to turn it off. It really only gets as homely as some brown around the edges of a twangy country song. Funk and soul are vibrant. Jazz is sparkly. Radiohead has a lot of layers.

Courtesy Lisa Cordes

Cementing the relationship between two Kansas City organizations that have worked together to help artists develop their careers, the Mid-America Arts Alliance announced on Thursday that it had acquired Artist INC.

On the 10th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant, chef Michael Smith talks about embarking on a new concept: making his version of Tuscan cuisine. Then, a local filmmaker on his new documentary about the growing conflict between coffee plantation workers and elephants.

Guests:

Danielle Hogerty / KCUR 89.3

Performing in public for unsuspecting audiences . . . You've seen it in big cities on street corners and on subways, but what about here in KC? We tap into the local scene.

Are you friends with your ex? We'll talk to a KU researcher about why.

Plus, advice on where to watch the solar eclipse in and around Kansas City

Guests:

Francis Bourgouin / Flickr -- CC

What sets a truly great happy hour apart?

Well, delicious food and drinks, for one. There’s also the vibe of the place.

“The social aspect of this cannot be discounted, even in the discounted world of happy hour,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Plus, she added, it’s just good way to get to familiarize yourself with a new cuisine or try a restaurant that might normally be out of your price range.

Courtesy Jason Harrington

Jason Harrington, aka muralist Rif Raf Giraffe, thinks that in the near future, Kansas City will be home to perhaps the densest mural park in the nation.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

It's been a year since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding for projects in the 18th and Vine district, such as stabilizing historic buildings and adding new streetscaping. On Wednesday, city officials provided a progress report. 

Hickok Cole Architects

What do artists in the Kansas City metropolitan area want when it comes to space? What are the top creative space priorities? 

To find out, Artspace, a nonprofit real estate developer, conducted a regional arts market study from October 2016 to January 2017. A total of 515 artists and 101 arts organizations or creative businesses responded to the online survey. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Star’s historic headquarters building at 1729 Grand Blvd. has been sold to a local developer who wants to redevelop the property as a first-class office project for up to 1,200 workers.

On Friday, The Star’s parent company, Sacramento-based McClatchy, announced it had sold the historic property and the 11-year-old Press Pavilion across McGee Street for a combined $42 million.

Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin / Flickr -- CC

There once was a time when "sausage" meant links or patties served with pancakes.

Not anymore, especially in Kansas City. We’ve seen a lot more sausage variety over the past few years.

“I think it’s part of the butchery trend,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “We have more and more chefs who are opening great butcher shops. With this return to artisan do-it-yourself butchery, sausage is a really incredible way to use up all the pieces and parts.”

Šárka Ponroy Vamberová

A village in the Czech Republic was the site of a brutal massacre during World War II. 

On June 10, 1942, every man in Lidice over the age of 15 was executed. Some children were sent to German homes to be "re-educated" to Nazi standards, and others were gassed in a concentration camp at Chełmno in Poland. Most of the mothers were killed at Ravensbrück, a camp north of Berlin.

With the inhabitants gone, the Nazis razed the village.  

Pauline Mak / Flickr -- CC

What’s the mark of a good bakery?

“You can taste when butter is used,” Food Critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “You can tell when real ingredients are used. It has a very different taste compared to something you get in a supermarket.”

Logan, along with critics Charles Ferruzza and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best bakeries — and best baked goods — in and around Kansas City this year.

Here are their recommendations:

Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- CC

Once, our idea of healthy eating revolved around the salad bowl.

But we’ve discovered that some salads can be deceptively unhealthy … and that there are other satisfying options on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics explored what “healthy eating” really means.

“I believe there are so many personal definitions of what ‘healthy’ is,” Lisa Murphy told host Gina Kaufmann. “Every individual has to make their own choice and have their own personal philosophy.”

Liz West / Flickr -- CC

A look at some of the exciting art stuff coming up in June: a local reggae band that's performing at the Crossroads Jammin' Reggae Fest, then the artist known as Boi Boy, whose show, "Select Username and Password" opens tonight.

Plus: remember writing letters? Actual handwritten ones? We'll talk with the owner of a Lawrence print shop who created a monthly letter-writing club.

Guests:

Ralph Daily / Flickr -- CC

Summer grilling season is upon us. Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be firing up the backyard grill, cold beverage in hand.

But what exactly is grilling? KCUR’s Food Critics defined it on Friday’s Central Standard.

“It’s over hot fire or coals,” Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann.

“Grilling is not barbeque,” added Charles Ferruzza. “The main difference is the speed. Grilling can be pretty fast. Barbeque is a slow-cooker thing.”

Brian Rozman Photography

It’s easy to imagine a teenage Samantha Fish standing in the mulch at Crossroads KC, dreaming about playing up on the stage.

“I’ve been going to that venue since I was a teenager,” Fish, a Kansas City native, confirms. “That and Knuckleheads were my two favorite places to go see live music.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

One of the Kansas City art world's most legendary characters — and most fearsome promoters of area artists — has died at age 74.

Tom Deatherage, who lived in an art-filled apartment above his gallery The Late Show, died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones after a long illness on Tuesday morning, according to friends who were present. He had been an art dealer in Kansas City for more than 25 years.

Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared some of the highlights from this past spring with host Gina Kaufmann:

The Marmot / Flickr -- CC

Summer's on the horizon. And as temperatures start to rise, our thoughts turn to the drinks and dishes that'll help keep us cool.

From an old-school shrimp cocktail to spring rolls — and, of course, don't forget ice cream and shaved ice — KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in Kansas City on Central Standard.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

stu_spivack / Flickr -- CC

It’s hard to go wrong with fries.

They come in all sorts of shapes and textures, and they’re a great vehicle for dipping sauces, seasonings or even gravy.

Whether you prefer thin and crispy, thick and pillowy-soft inside — or waffle-shaped, crinkle-cut or curly — on Friday's Central Standard, KCUR’s Food Critics searched out the best fries in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Erin / Flickr -- CC

Brunch can take on many different forms.

There’s the all-you-can-eat buffet, complete with waffle and omelet stations.

And don’t forget the boozy brunch — quite possibly the only time of the week where one could have a drink in the morning without feeling too guilty.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics took their annual look at the best brunch dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

In a city with so many school options, it isn’t always easy for parents to choose where to send their children.

Amanda Recob’s daughter, Marliemae, will start kindergarten in the fall. But Recob isn’t just choosing a school for her 5-year-old.

“I have two girls following her, so it is a lot of pressure,” Recob says. “I don’t want them going to three separate schools.”

So Recob is trying to keep the needs of her 2-year-old and 4-year-old in mind as she visits schools.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Chicken isn't the most exciting protein.

“It’s like the vodka of the food world,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR's Central Standard. “It takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it or put with it.”

But that’s the beauty of chicken — and why it’s a beloved staple in many cultures. Whether you like it fried, roasted or grilled, in strips or shredded (and, for the kids, in nugget form), you can find chicken at all price points.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

At first glance, the painter Ada Koch and the poet Glenn North might seem an unlikely pair. But what has emerged from their collaboration — Love, Loss & Violence: A Visual Dialogue on War, an art exhibit opening this weekend at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and an accompanying book — illustrates with painful honesty that certain fears are universal.

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